Mostafa Nissabouri

Translated from the French by Pierre Joris

Anticipation of an Exclusion

I nomad
I heal through sand writings
the wounds of becoming in waiting
I’ll track the image of death
      in you
your star paths and there where it will be present
with kaftans with kif bouquets
fostering mirages death
very beautiful like the sovereign reading of our hands

Because I See us
I’ll spit out my remembrances at dawn
      without you
my inaudible kinships in the troubled waters of
      uncertain early mornings
I’ll be the one
whose voice is native to cities thrown to their
in debris of heavens that haunt them
who does not know my name my origin I’ll be
the blood-me
so as never again to dream.

Death is red all-over who discovers
its blazing owl
and the dullness of a moon asleep
in its sources
Memory damned
From then on I speak the language
inherited from a vast spread out night

I nomad

I would like as in an ancient rite and wearing a mask
I would like with moving grounds
I would like with cycles of bodies walled in the mud I’d like
from yesterday to tomorrow
with streets booby-trapped with men with eyes like extinct
with streets without cities with cities without names
I would like
to arrive like a fish according to the customs of water
that punctuate your name with an island in my gaze
I would like like an intense cloud over crops without soil
like a life possibility that is other like a cry
to come back
and inflict on your body the spectacle of my shadow peninsulas
cut through our difficulty of being
or die
I speak
that half of my language where the sun is a fissure while in the
other half everything between us remains
      a thousand times
to be resaid
the sun is in my language
the phosphorescent jewel summing up venomous nights
of porphyry inside you
protecting forever from my sight
the fogs of your shores and the solid earth of your
      warheaded tales
the sun in my Adam’s apple
bursts the dams of refusal on the sea that I drink all up
to hear you I want to read
on your breasts the pink alphabet
of pain’s solitudes and the predictions of all the
      mountains to come
to ruin one religion a day without straying from myself
that is from the fracas and plutonium eruptions of my blood
standing watch on the ramparts
      of the jade palaces
      of the mother-of-pearl mausoleums
I would like to ruin one religion a day and all the golden
in my memories — set traps for the phantoms
that venture
out of forgetting

I arrive
by the caravan
come out of the great gash
in space.


Born in 1943, Mostafa Nissabouri is a core representative of contemporary francophone Moroccan poetry, co-founder — with Abdellatif Laâbi & Mohamed Khair-Eddine — of the great avant-garde 1960s magazine Souffles, & was later editor of Intégral. Writes James Kirkup: “His language, French, is both classical in its vocabulary and surreal in its style and in the play of its images. Mixed in among concrete and abstract terms, one finds specialized vocabularies belonging to botany, oceanography, geography and medicine… The violent uprushes of his sonorous French remind me of the improvisations of the tellers of tales on the public squares of Fez and Marrakech.” Nissabouri has published a number of volumes of poetry, most recently Approche du désertique (Al Manar, 1997 & 1998) & earlier three major collections: La mille et deuxième nuit, Rupture & Aube. He himself has said of his approach to writing: “I don’t write for, I write against… I remain strongly convinced that a true revolution is the result of the destruction of mental structures and consequently of those of language itself, the enemy # 1 of DESIRE.”

Pierre Joris most recently published The Agony of I.B. (a play, Editions PHI), An American Suite (early poems, Inpatient Press), Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG). He resides & resists in Sorrentinostan, Brooklyn when not on the road.

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